France campaign aims to end selfies on rail tracks

a view of a city: There were about 10,000 railway trespassing incidents recorded across France last year, the SNCF said © Frédéric Soltan/Getty Images There were about 10,000 railway trespassing incidents recorded across France last year, the SNCF said

France's national rail operator is warning people not to take selfies on tracks as reported incidents rise during the coronavirus pandemic.

The SNCF railway company said people were trespassing and taking dangerous risks to capture images at a time of reduced rail services and surveillance.

This week the operator began publishing a series of video messages it said would continue to run until next month.

Along with France, the UK has also seen a recent a rise in such incidents.

The SNCF launched the new video series on social media networks on Monday, using the hashtag #SurLesRails (#OnRails). It said the content of the posts was "inspired by real events".

https://twitter.com/SNCFReseau/status/1389157797477158912

The campaign uses slogans such as "taking pictures on the tracks is to risk never taking pictures again", and highlights the dangers including the risk of being hit by a train, high-voltage electrocution and a serious fall.

The SNCF said that new guidance would be released each week as part of an ongoing risk prevention campaign.

Measures introduced in the country last year to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 have meant that fewer trains have been in use, while track maintenance work and surveillance has also been reduced.

The SNCF said that this was likely to be behind an increase in reported incidents of people visiting sites illegally and taking pictures, which are then shared on social media sites such as Instagram.

"Every week in France, a fatal accident near or on the railways is caused by risky behaviour," the operator said.

The SNCF said that last year about 10,000 trespassing incidents were recorded, including 23 fatalities and 11 serious injuries. It said this was a significant increase on previous years, without providing details.

In the UK, figures released by Network Rail and the British Transport Police for 2020 showed that November saw "a staggering 75% increase in youth" railway trespassing incidents, compared with the previous year.

The figures also showed an increase of such incidents by as much as 40% over the summer compared with 2019.

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France campaign aims to end selfies on rail tracks